I was as surprised as the next person to hear today that Fred Destin was going to be leaving Atlas to return home to the UK with his family. I’m sure it was a tough decision, but one I can understand given someone who has lived abroad for most of his life.
Even though Fred was always obviously not a local Boston-guy, he had a tremendous impact on the tech community here that will be sorely missed. In particular, there are a couple things I’ve admired that I hope “sticks” even while he relocates across the Atlantic.
1. Fred did a really great job re-calibrating the local ecosystem around taking big swings. He looked at large scale, extremely fast growing, network businesses and said “why can’t those be built here?”. He also appreciated the fact that often, the most disruptive companies look like “toys” in the beginning, and that some of the best companies focus on growth and scale while being patient that revenue and profitability will come when the “technology leverage kicks in”. It’s counter-cultural here, and I appreciated his willingness to push for this loudly, even in the face of occasional criticism.
2. Fred has also been the model of someone who is vocal, engaged, and genuinely excited about the local tech eco-system in Boston. Yes, it’s by definition self-serving as an investor, but Fred has been more active than most, and I think genuinely excited to help this area become more attractive and friendly towards entrepreneurs. I’ve also always appreciated the way Fred has been very quick to openly express his admiration for companies and founders outside of the Atlas portfolio. Most VC’s (myself included) have a hard time not saying snarky remarks of companies that they are not involved with. It’s harder to be positive and constructive, which is what I’ve found Fred to be in nearly all of my interactions with him.
It’s too bad to see him go. But I think Fred will leave a positive mark, and I think some of these cultural norms have some staying power and will make this eco-system better even in the months ahead. Thanks Fred!